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Mitigating Challenges and Achieving Innovation in a Global Corporation

Mitigating Challenges and Achieving Innovation in a Global Corporation
Maggie Franz

Maggie Franz

Photo by Slava Bowman

How to take the natural challenges and turn them into Key Factors in the successful innovation of your global brand

Markets are changing. Your customers are changing. We are facing an innovate or die type of global economy. When you have a large and diverse corporation with key team members and departments spread across the globe, collaboration can be challenging. Your innovation however, is dependent upon that collaboration. So what do you?

The first step is not to panic. You are not the only corporation to face these challenges, and if these hurdles were insurmountable, no one would succeed. The trick is exploring each of the challenges that your specific corporation faces critically and creatively, so that you can transform it from a challenge, to a factor in your success.

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How can you take the natural challenges that arise from global collaboration and turn them into key factors for the success of the project?

Great Question! First, let’s take a look at what some of these challenges are:

  1. Time Zones: The most obvious challenge for collaboration within a global corporation results from individual team members working in different time zones. There may be very few hours in the workday when schedules overlap.
  2. Cultural Differences: Even though the corporation may have worked to create an overall corporate culture, anthropological or ethnic differences can create differences in work and communication styles.
  3. Language: Language Barriers may pose additional challenges. When speaking a second language, not all of the nuances and colloquial phrases may be understood, at no fault to the individual. Translations apps and tools also tend to miss many nuances. These can lead to miscommunications, or the need for over communication, both sapping time from your schedule.
  4. Goals and Priorities: In an organization that is geographically distributed, team members are bound to also be distributed across different departments and groups. These different segments of your corporation are bound to have different goals and priorities.

Now let’s look at how you can turn each of these challenges, into a factor that promotes the success of the innovation project.

Time Zones:

Having only a few hours a day where teams can meet and collaborate, forces those team members to carve that time out and dedicate it to innovation. For example, if there are three hours where team members work days overlap, you can carve out time to prepare and collaborate. When that shared time expires, team members can ideate further, work on pieces of the project and then be prepared for the next scheduled meeting.

When time is limited it forces organizations and individuals to focus and use that time more wisely than if you had the full work day to think about innovation. A structured innovation project is likely to be successful with less time, than if teams were centralized and had more time to dedicate.

Cultural Differences:

Bringing different cultures together to collaborate brings different backgrounds, experiences, training and work styles together. The combination of these differences can result in the creation of new ideas, driving innovation. People from different countries will tend to think of different ideas, when these ideas are shared, they may spark others in the minds of their team members.


When people communicate across different languages, it usually requires a simplification of the ideas being shared. In order to simplify an idea, the idea must be fully formed requiring team members to think and ideate a bit more before sharing, which can lead to better or more actionable ideas.

Goals and Priorities:

Corporate innovation can improve upon a number of different areas, from internal processes and procedures, to new products or marketing strategies. Bringing people from different departments, with different areas of focus, to work on a different area of the corporation can bring new thoughts and ways to innovate. Teams can identify areas in which they overlap, to streamline processes and procedures, areas that are being under or over served, etc. when they are able to step back from their primary objectives and look at the bigger picture, or ways their department affects others.

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